Jankovic survives Kiwi fightback to reach third round

May 29th, 2008 - 11:56 pm ICT by admin  

Paris, May 29 (DPA) Third seed Jelena Jankovic survived a sore right arm and a fierce fightback from New Zealand’s Marina Erakovic to scratch out a 6-2, 7-6 (7-5) win into the third round of the French Open Thursday. “It happened somewhere in the beginning of the second set and gradually was getting worse and worse,” said the Serb about her injury. “The balls were a little bit heavier because the weather is humid and the court is wet.

“The game is very much slower than usual,” she said.

The seed found herself in a duel in the second set as the 20-year-old Croatian-born right-hander from Auckland, punched above her weight to force a second-set tiebreaker.

Leading 5-3 in the decider after winning a 27-stroke point, the youngster ranked 80th couldn’t close it out, falling back to 5-5.

The experienced 23-year-old Jankovic, winner of the Rome title for a second time this month, took her opportunities, earning a match point with a winner out wide which Erakovic could not touch.

The Serb escaped with victory a point later when Erakovic netted a forehand.

“She played great,” said Jankovic, a 2007 semi-finalist. “I thought she’d be a very young player with nothing to lose.

“She had a great performance, playing freely, serving unbelievably.”

Jankovic was twice treated for her wrist problem, but refused to take a taping and asked for pain-dulling cream instead.

“From hitting a lot of balls, my arm started to have pain. It’s swollen now but the trainer helped me to finish the match.”

After complaining about the balls made heavy in the humidity of a day with rain in the forecast, the Serb got back to business.

Eighth seed Venus Williams reached the third round with a victory over Tunisian Selima Sfar, 6-2, 6-4, overcoming 28 unforced errors.

The 27-year-old, who finished runner-up to her sister in 2002, improved to 35-11 at Roland Garros in her 12th consecutive appearance.

Williams will face Italian Flavia Pennetta, who beat Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia 3-6, 6-1, 6-1.

On the men’s side, French wildcard Jeremy Chardy who came from two sets to love down to stun one of the pre-tournament title outsiders with a 3-6, 4-6, 6-2, 6-1, 6-2 knockout of sixth seed David Nalbandian.

Latvian Ernest Gulbis brought an end to a temporary run of American success a year after the US men all lost in the second round.

The number 80 stunned frustrated seventh seed James Blake 7-6 (7-2), 3-6, 7-5, 6-3 with the American complaining that he’s been listening too closely to armchair critics of his game.

“I played the way too many commentators think I should play. I probably didn’t make very many errors, but I didn’t hit that many winners.

“That’s the way a lot of them think I should play, and I think today was a good indication of that’s not the way to win matches for me.

Russian 15th seed Mikhail Youzhny booked easy passage to the third round over Argentine Maximo Gonzalez 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 under darkening skies as forecast rain stalled as drizzle.

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